Baseball America’s Top Ten Yankees Prospects

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Omar Infante
The difficulty of trading Brett Gardner
Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)
Sanchez. (Star-Ledger)

Baseball America published their list of the top ten Yankees prospects today, and the list is free for all. The scouting reports, however, are not. You’ll need a subscription to read them. The name atop the list won’t be a surprise, but things are pretty wide open after that. They could have gone in any number of directions. Here’s the top ten:

  1. C Gary Sanchez
  2. OF Slade Heathcott
  3. OF Mason Williams
  4. C J.R. Murphy
  5. 3B Eric Jagielo
  6. OF Aaron Judge
  7. LHP Ian Clarkin
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. RHP Luis Severino
  10. 2B Gosuke Katoh

The feature also includes a list of the organization’s top 15 players under the age of 25 and none of the 15 are big leaguers. Can’t say I’m surprised. Those ten guys up there are the top ten and are followed (in order) by LHP Manny Banuelos, SS Abi Avelino, RHP Jose Ramirez, RHP Jose Campos, and RHP Rafael DePaula. I suspect those guys will be prospects 11-15 when the Prospect Handbook comes out in a few weeks. The notable omission is OF Tyler Austin, who had an okay year but dealt with injury problems, specifically a bone bruise in his right wrist. It forced him from the Arizona Fall League after only four games. His stock took a hit this summer.

Heathcott. (Presswire)
Heathcott. (Presswire)

Sanchez, who has “effortless, well-above-average raw power and an above-average hit tool,” is an easy call for the top spot, especially now that his defense has improved. After him? I don’t see how there could be a consensus. I think it’s somewhat interesting that the top three prospects all have some kind of makeup concern — Sanchez was suspended for insubordination in 2011, Heathcott has had drug an alcohol problems, Williams was arrested for DUI earlier this year and has had run-ins with coaches — despite the team’s renewed emphasis on character. In the end, talent always reigns supreme. Can’t teach it.

A few things from the write-ups stand out. Williams “adopted an Ichiro-style slapping approach” this year and didn’t show the same tools as he had last year. Like Austin, he took a step back. The Yankees project Murphy as a “potential future .280 hitter with 10-12 homer power” while Sanchez is regarded as more of a “.260-.270 hitter with at least 20 home runs annually.” Both profiles fit just fine behind the plate. As for Bird, “some scouts and SAL managers questioned his future power” despite his awesome year. The plate discipline and everything else is fine, but low-power first baseman aren’t exactly a hot commodity. Severino is said to have “raw stuff that is as good as any Yankees farmhand” with a fastball that “sits between 93-95 mph and touches the upper 90s often.” His slider was his best secondary pitch when he signed but his changeup has since surpassed it. Neat.

Heathcott and Murphy are the only players in the top ten slated to open next season with Triple-A Scranton, and I suppose there’s a chance Heathcott will be sent back to Double-A Trenton to start the year. That’s unlikely though. The Yankees didn’t have any big league ready help this past season and for the most part, that will be the case again in 2014. Their farm system took a slight step back overall but not as big as it would have been without those three first rounders. The team needed to add some impact talent and it did with that draft. Most of their highest ceiling prospects are in the low minors — the short season leagues — and will need time to develop.

Scouting The Free Agent Market: Omar Infante
The difficulty of trading Brett Gardner
  • Theonewhoknocks

    Weird to see austin not make the list. There were some scouts last year that had him only behind Sanchez. Yeah he had a disappointing year but so did Williams and heathcott. Not sure I agree with that assessment. This is the least excited I’ve been about the system in a long time, and I think it totally justifies the Yankees spending big in FA right now. Not only do they need help, not only do they have none coming from the system anytime soon-but it shows that we really have a problem with drafting and developing successful big leaguers right now. I think they recognized it as a weakness and spending big is their way to augment that weakness

    • I’m a looser and a trader baby so why don’t you kill me?

      Aren’t all three of the guys we just drafted on the list? That’s pretty good sign of a new/different approach.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner (the rarely spoken-of sibling)

        …or a shitty list?

  • Mark Teixeira – Ghostbuster (formerly Drew)

    I know he is coming back from TJS but I am really surprised that Banuelos was left completely off the list. Still only 23 years old and he if he has a good 1st half of the season in AAA would be an likely call up and contributor for the Yankees this season. A lot would have to break right but IMO he is more of a prospect than Servino or Kahota at this point.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I was thinking this too.

      • I’m One

        I’m not too surprised he’s not a top 10 right now. I think that could change quickly if he shows well during ST and the beginning of the season (AAA, I suppose).

  • Bavarian Yankee

    so Sanchez projects to be similar to Santana and Rosario with (maybe) better defense? Would be really nice if he could get there.

    Also had no idea Severino is a really promising prospect.

  • Kevin W

    May have been a down year but I cant remember a minor league season i’ve been more excited from. Interested to see how these lower guys develop this year such as Avelino/Severino/Clarkin/Judge. Lot of interesting potential and bounce-back candidates. Even if 1-2 of these guys continue to develop next year and a half of last years top guys bounce back we could be talking about a top-5 system.

    Also interested to see Caleb Smith this year who is interesting excluded from these lists, he pitched really well after signing. I’ve also always been a big Nik Turley fan, I think he could turn into a reliable 4/5 starter for the Yankees and if he pitches well this year I could see him ending up in the Bronx at some point.

    • Kevin W

      Also if this ends up being the case next offseason the Yankees could be in a great position to make trades. Really excited to see how these guys develop this season.

    • viridiana

      When your AA tem (Trenton) dominates its league playoffs but does not place a player in the BA League Top 20, its likely because you have some seriously under-rated talent. I believe this is the case with last year’s AA team.

      • viridiana


  • Jorge Steinbrenner (the rarely spoken-of sibling)

    Dropping Banuelos after being two years is one thing. Dropping Austin? Give me a break. That’s a massive overreaction.

    Prove ’em wrong, Tyler.

    • mitch

      Dropping Austin off completely is a little extreme, but he was probably overrated heading into the season. His ranking was due to his great numbers, and he was considered a lower ceiling/higher floor sort of player. Take away the production and you don’t have the elite tools to fall back on.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner (the rarely spoken-of sibling)

        The ceiling is still one of an average MLB regular. I understand some of the first rounders from last year on here, but you’ve got rookie ball guys ranked here. Austin, right now, stands a better chance of making the majors than Katoh, who is years away, if he ever gets there.

    • Dalek Jeter

      I’m absolutely shocked he was left off the list.

      • Pseudoyanks

        Norris just wrote he’s Number 11 (in the chat)

        • Pseudoyanks

          Sorry, to clarify, Banuelos is 11. Austin May be a 4th OF according to Norris.

          • RetroRob

            Norris covered the Yankees for much of the year and talked to some scouts on Austin, so he is probably a little more heavily influenced by that. Cuts both ways. It’s difficult to assess since we had scouts last year saying great things and scouts this year less so. Are these the same scouts? Just the ones who want to speak? The ones that a reporter picks to support his own belief?

            All I know is Austin’s bat speed somehow decreased this year for unknown reasons all at the young age of 21, and then we found out about the injury. I believe he will have a comeback in 2014. If he is mediocre a second straight year, I’ll let him go from my prospect crush list! Right now, I’m counting on a return to form.

  • Dick M

    It’s recurring theme with us that our annual Top 10 lists are bottom heavy with prospects in class A and below — never a good sign.

  • TWTR

    I view Sanchez as untouchable, unless he is part of a package for a non-pitching star under 27.

  • Tim

    Another website that deals strictly with Yankees farm system and the writer goes directly to the Yankee brass to verify his rankings, has Bird as a solid #1 prospect, and the best hitting prospect in the system. He has Severino and Avelino and Manbam, Jagielo and Austin in the top 10. Says Severino is a stud, and a front line starter prospect. The org is very excited about Avelino, he’s the top SS prospect.

    • Bavarian Yankee

      link please?

      • pat

        Pinstripesplus. All the content is subscriber only.

    • HulkHeyman

      Link or GTFO

    • Pseudoyanks

      The Watch out of going “directly to Yankee brass to verify his rankings” is any smart team will Talk-Up the prospects they may not hold in highest regard to enhance their trade value.

      • RetroRob

        Exactly. I mean, I like to hear what the team thinks, but they will also be biased and trying to pump up certain prospects. I want independent reports.

  • Tim

    But the writer also says that talking to other team’s writers and executives that the Yankee farm system is very, very deep. As deep as it’s been in decades according to him. Lots of pitching, maybe not alot of front line prospects but lots of potential.

  • Dicka24

    Man, it seems like it was just yesterday that we fans were all excited about the Yankees system. Killer B’s, Montero, etc. What a difference a few years can make.

    You’d think that with all the resources the Yankees have at their disposal, that they’d have a top tier structure in terms of talent evaluation, philosophy, scouting, development, etc. It feels to me that the Yankees have had the same people in charge for a while now, and have had the same lack luster results for a decade plus. Shouldn’t the Yankees be raiding other teams talent evaluators with big money contracts, since money is some they have, and paying talent evaluators isn’t taxed? I know it likely sounds a lot easier than it is to do, but the results system wise kinda point to a need for improvement. A need for new, and better blood. When picks like Cito Culver and DB jr happen with what seems to be regularity, shouldn’t there be a change made somewhere? Why not hire some people from St Louis’ system to run the show here? While the Yankees do pick late in rounds, and do tend to lose picks to sign FA’s, they should seriously clean house in their development ranks.

  • Pelham1TWO3

    It’s sad and says a lot when 3 of your top 10 prospects are recent draftees, only one of which has even played a game of pro ball. Oh well, it can only get better right? Right? Right?

    • mitch

      I think most 2013 first rounders will end up on their team’s top 10 lists.

    • Nick

      Not THAT said… They had 3 first round picks. First round picks usually manage to make their way onto this lists or they wouldn’t have been first round picks.

      • Nick


    • Joe

      four actually

  • PunkPitch

    Take note that of the 6 players who made the GCL top 20, 5 players are from Latin America. Only Gosuke was a product of our Amateur draft. This warrants scrutiny as to why we can’t produce non latin players.

    • TWTR

      They scrutinized but decided against any personnel moves which, given their track record, was disappointing.

    • Need Pitching & Hitting

      Don’t most better draft picks start out higher than GCL?
      Certainly among college draftees, whereas most latin players sign at 16 and start their US tour of duty in GCL.

      • PunkPitch

        The much better draft picks you mention usually gobto a more advanced short season league represented by our Staten Island affiliate. That team managed a whopping total of 1 player (Eric Jagielo) on BA’s top 20. And that’s not the bad news. The bad news that a scan of the entire sytem boasts a grand total of zero players with star talent.Very likely there are nary one future Derek Jeter superstar anywhere in the system.

        • Kevin

          Any system would kill to have one future hall of famer top 5 talent at a premium position who will play for you for the next decade and a half winning 5 world series. Don’t act like the Cards and the Rays just shit out Jeters.

          • PunkPitch

            Of course the standard is very high – it should be. The problem with the current regime is that they forgot how to draft and developa rough facsimile thereof.

    • Ed

      a) The rules for signing amateurs leave the Yankees with a huge disadvantage in the draft. In the past they were on equal footing with everyone else for international players, so they focused heavily on that market. The new rules leave them at a disadvantage internationally, but the disadvantage there isn’t nearly as big as it is in the draft.

      b) GCL is at the bottom of the minor league pecking order. The guys who play there are generally guys right out of high school or Latin America.

      c) The Yankees picked college players with their first round picks this year. They skipped right over the GCL.

    • YankeeGrunt

      We drafted two collegians in the first and our other pick didn’t pitch because of a minor injury. That’s why no one else made the list.

    • RetroRob

      It will be worse after this summer when the team will lose its top picks in the Amateur Draft, and to compensate plans to spend heavily (blowing out the dollar restrictions) to secure the best international talent, sacrificing the international draft for the following year when they probably plan to have multiple picks in the Amateur Draft again. That hasn’t been said directly, but it seems likely. An interesting strategy driven by this year’s MLB free agent spending spree.

      Will see how it plays out over the next year or two. Teams are clearly changing their approaches based on the new CBA.

  • The dude

    Where will Hensley fall out?

  • Pseudoyanks

    Heh, Clarkin and Katoh were friends growing up in San Diego as kids.

    • Doug

      Katoh could be a special player.

  • Pseudoyanks

    Josh Norris doing a chat on Yankee Farm System at 2:30ET for BA Subscribers. I may not tune in live but will post any worthwhile insights I discover.

  • Preston

    I don’ understand this bottom heavy criticism of the Yankee farm system. That’s how farm systems work. Young players with lots of promise come into rookie ball and A and then at each level in between they either continue to be a star (Sanchez) or they fade by under-performing expectations (Williams), get hurt (Heathcott and Austin) to lose some of the luster they had before they’d been tested or maybe they fall of the map completely and can’t ever graduate (Bichette). That’s the nature of the beast. There will always be more “legitimate” prospects in the lower minors because they are extremely talented and have done nothing to undermine that claim. By the time they get to AA and AAA they will have been challenged more, thus revealing their warts and flaws. A team should always have rookie and A ball teams stacked with big league prospects. But it takes real luck for all or even most of that talent to translate up. The Yankees have had a rougher go of it than most with injuries and failure from guys. But expecting any team to have a roster full of big league ready young talent at AAA is pretty unreasonable. Two legitimate position prospects at AAA in Murphy and Heathcott and two pretty high end arms in Ramirez and Banuelos is better than most teams have in AAA right now.

    • mitch

      Good points. I think there’s some carryover frustration from last year when the Yankees couldn’t fill any of their various holes from within. The talent distribution throughout the system this year seems pretty normal.

      • TWTR

        It’s not just this past season. They haven’t been able to integrate very many position players or starting pitchers for years.

        • mitch

          Yeah I agree that has been a big problem. I was just pointing out that their recent lack upper level prospects seems to give people the mindset that all of their talent is still A or lower. In reality, a decent number of the top 15 aren’t that far away this year. The question is if they will continue to develop into MLB players or fizzle out like most of the recent prospects.

  • RustyShackleford

    I never understood how Bird hits 20 hr in park in Charleston that suppresses power and his power is in question. Sanchez hits 17 in much friendlier environment (before move to Trenton) and he has great power.

    • qwerty

      Go figure. It’s probably because he’s a catcher.

  • qwerty

    Heathcott in AAA = disaster. He barely made out of AA alive. Both Williams and Heathcott are a joke.

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      Why did the chicken cross the road?

      Because qwerty was on the side he started on.

      That’s a joke.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner (the rarely spoken-of sibling)

        Please tell another.

  • Farewell Mo

    Can’t be a good sign when 3 of your top 6 prospects were just drafted less than 6 months ago and aren’t above short season or low A ball.

  • Pseudoyanks

    Lots of love for Abi Avelino (2nd best SS in GCL behind JP Crawford) and Jake Cave (sleeper of the system).

    • Jorge Steinbrenner (the rarely spoken-of sibling)

      Not from MannyGeee.

      • Pseudoyanks

        And tons of love for Severino.

  • Pseudoyanks

    Yanks Farm System….between 20-30 overall. -Norris

    • PunkPitch

      I thought the system was chock full? Wha happened?

      • Mike

        It’s chock full of good players.

    • CONservative governMENt

      Its normal for a farm system to drop in rank after several elite prospects have moved up to the majors.

      Oh, wait…..

      I’m just praying for that miracle scenario where Austin, Sanchez, Heathcott, Williams, Jagielo, Judge, DePaula, Campos, Banuelos, Hensley, Clarkin all blossom and the Yankees turn into a developmental juggernaut.

  • Nathan

    Who is/was considered the bigger prospect: Montero or Sanchez?

    • Preston

      Montero, and it isn’t particularly close. But Sanchez is the better catcher, and I wouldn’t trade Sanchez for Montero now.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Actually a year like this past one makes me more excited for the farm system.

    Although it’s not impossible, it’d be ridiculous for anything to go more wrong with the farm system than did in 2013.

    I’m expecting Sanchez, Williams and Austin to seriously step up their game with a 2nd look at AA.

    I’m expecting Jose Ramirez to put together a 3.50 ERA type season at AAA and make himself a serious candidate for a second half call-up.

    I’m expecting Mark Montgomery to bounce back and go the way of Ramirez.

    I’m expecting Man-Ban’s robot elbow to help him look like the #1 or #2 we all know he could be.

    Luis Severino is intriguing, but not really much to follow right now. When he does something noteworthy at A-ball, call me.

    I’m expecting Murphy to post a solid batting line at AAA and Heathcott not get so overmatched as to earn a demotion to AA.

    Big dreams, I know, but it’d be tough to imagine it going any worse this year…

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Pulling for the young arms (Nova, Pineda, Banuelos, Ramirez) to develop/continue to mature, as the need to get cheap good pitching is imperative with our offensive spending spree.